Monday, August 23, 2010

"Surprised by Grace" a book by Tullian Tchividjian


The book "Surprised by Grace" was a surprise to me. It has the subtitle of "God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels"...I had no idea what it was about beyond that. As it turns out, it is one of the easiest to read, most profound, and most captivating commentaries (of sorts, anyway) that I have ever read and it deals with the book of Jonah. Being a seminary student, I do deal with academic-type commentaries on a regular basis. This is not one of those, not because it's not worthy, but because it is filled with life application that most do not include.
Be sure and begin with the preface titled "A Cure for Gospel Confusion", it's an awesome beginning that will change your perspective of how the gospel works. Tullian approaches and applies the fact that "the gospel" is not a one time event, but is necessary for all daily. Just read it, he says it better than I do.
The author then proceeds to interact with scripture. We learn all about the man Jonah. Where he started. Tullian immediately begins to apply this scripture to the reader's life and heart. He says, "His (Jonah's) runaway posture is our posture, every time we sin, whether in thought, word, or deed, whether it's something we consider big or something small, whether it's doing something we shouldn't or failing to do something we should" (page 33). Ouch! Right? Read it!
The author moves smoothly from section to section of scripture with logical chapter breaking points and it helps the reader swallow the book bit by bit. Tullian also does something entirely new and captivating to me. He talks about artwork (old and new) that deal with this particular biblical character. There are photos of these works contained in the book so the reader can see exactly what is meant and it really was enjoyable for me and helped bring home many of the emotions in the story. While dealing with the section about the storm at sea caused by Jonah's fleeing, Tullian deals well with God's response to Jonah's sin--as well as sin in all of our lives. He says, "...his response is more likely to be stormy and upsetting than quiet and subtle" (pg. 41). No kidding!
I felt that the insights offered by Tullian in this book were amazing. He points to the downward spiral that Jonah's life took from the moment he chose to flee God's will. You may think this spiral ended when the fish barfed him up on shore...not so. Read the book. I spent about a day and a half reading it because I could NOT put it down! The author applies every single mistake that Jonah makes, every single bad attitude to the reader's life--not in a condemning way, he just points out that we all have those little (and sometimes big) attitudes and problems as well. We get angry at God when He doesn't do what we want, when we want. We remember Him when we're in trouble (in the fish's belly, so to speak), we forget to repent even when we know we're wrong. Just like Jonah, some days we'd rather die than listen to God and do it His way.
This book is well worth the price and time spent. You will be surprised at all the small volume contains.

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